So I’m sharing it with you!
I was just flipping through my files and I thought I would just send y’all a little something extra special–a deleted scene from The Checklist. For those of you who haven’t read The Checklist, you may not want to read any further, unless you are okay with major spoilers (sorry!).
Just a heads-up, this is unedited, so forgive my typos. I ended up cutting this scene from The Checklist but I really loved writing it! It takes place towards the end of the book right as Dylan realizes there is no way she can possibly meet Jared’s demands. Freaking out, she texts Stacy in a panic…and this is where she lands:
Dylan swung into the parking lot off Highway 99 and shut off the car, breathing in through her nose for five seconds and out through her mouth for eight, like her middle school choir teacher had taught her. She had been using this trick to fight a state of near debilitating dread since she bolted from the office a half-hour earlier. Now, sitting outside of the dingy white building labeled Marshall’s Youth Dental, with the “N” in dental flashing unintentionally, she wondered if her SOS text to Stacy was a tad dramatic.
Forcing herself out of the car, the fresh air hit Dylan like a blast of cold, pine-scented reality as she made her way toward the office. She tugged on the door handle, which wobbled, but did not open. The man behind the desk mimicked a door handle, and what looked like a rowing motion. After a brief moment of wondering if she hallucinated the gesture, Dylan put it together and yanked hard on the sticky door, stumbling backward. Trying to comport herself with more grace than she had just displayed, she walked into the warm reception area and glanced around.
“Hello, I’m here to see Stacy Castello. Is she in?”
“You must be her family dental emergency,” said the salt and pepper-haired man behind the desk in Tweety Bird scrubs. He looked at her suspiciously, as if to point out the very obvious fact that she and Stacy looked nothing alike.
“Yes. That is me. Family dental emergency.”
“Take a seat. Ms. Stacy will be around to help you in a moment.”
Dylan turned to the seating area. The adult chairs were full, but there were a few toddler-sized chairs around a plastic tea-set table that she could, in theory, have attempted to sit in. She almost asked the man at the front desk if he really wanted her to have a seat when Stacy’s voice came over her shoulder.
“Hey, how you feeling?”
“Not great.” Dylan eyed the man at the front desk to make sure he could hear her, then added, “Thanks for seeing me.”
“For family? Anything,” Stacy said, wrapping her friend in a large embrace.
“Is now a bad time?” Dylan stammered, simultaneously glad for the hug from a friend, and guilty over disrupting her schedule.
“No worries, I let Dr. Marshall know I have a family emergency,” Stacy whispered, leading her back into the labyrinth of dental cubicles, all brightly colored and cartoon-themed. “Have a seat,” she said, gesturing kindly to the tiny dental chair in the corner room. Stacy grabbed a Winnie-the-Pooh spit guard and fashioned it around her neck.
Dylan settled herself into the child-sized chair, and laughed, the pitch reaching near hysterics as she looked at her high-heeled feet hanging well over the end of the powder blue upholstery.
“I look ridiculous,” she hiccupped.
“Sorry,” Stacy said, trying to ward off a grin. “It is a dental office specializing in children.”
“I know. And really, I’m grateful you squeezed me in,” Dylan said, suppressing a crack about her size and the chair.
“What are friends for? Your text scared me. What is going on?” Stacy asked, her penciled eyebrows knitting together.
“Holy shit, Stac, I’m—”
“Language,” she hissed, glancing at the mint green cube across the way.
“Sorry, it’s just…I’m screwed. Like truly sunk.”
Employing her breathe in for a five-count method, Dylan opened her mouth as Stacy turned around to grab a tray of instruments. “Wait. Are you actually cleaning my teeth?”
“No. But you’re having a dental emergency. Remember?” Stacy winked.
“Oh yeah. Real bad. Something is very…urgent,” Dylan said, the tension in her jaw making her laugh more an agitated groan than an expression of joy.
“You were saying?”
Taking another deep breath, Dylan laid the last 12 hours out for her friend, starting with slow-jam sushi, Stacy’s eyes getting wider as she went. By the time she finally admitted everything, Stacy had forgotten to whisper or pretend she was working. Dylan had to remind her that detailed questions about her “sleepover” would need to be asked at a lower volume and in a different venue entirely.
“So anyway, I’m roughly 24 hours from finally losing my job. I’m being held hostage by my ex while alienating the boy next door—”
“Technically, the man across the street,” her friend said, holding up a water pick. Examining Dylan’s incredulous brows, Stacy demurred, “But, yeah. I see what you mean.”
“The thing is, I don’t want to give up. I’ve worked hard and done well at Kaplan. I hate that I’m in this pressure cooker where I’m bound to throw it all away.” Stacy opened her mouth to add something, but Dylan pressed on, her voice rising, “And, I like a lot of the people at Technocore. I don’t want to let them down. Even Tim, who I like…sometimes.”
“But do you have to give it up?” Stacy pulled at her latex gloves theatrically, “Kaplan and Technocore, I mean.”
“Well, not technically. But, I’m between a rock and a hard spot.”
Glancing at a clock somewhere over her shoulder, Stacy said, “Okay. We can work through this. It’s only 12:45. You have all day today. Plus, time tomorrow. You just need to buckle down.” She ran the air blaster implement for a moment, trying to maintain the illusion that Dylan’s last dental check-up had been anything other than spotless.
“I mean, that is true. But I also need about three weeks’ worth of time.”
Her friend set down the air blaster and asked, “Okay, if a brand-new consultant came to you with this problem, what would you tell them?”
“Find an all-night coffee shop, sketch an outline for everything, then fill in what you can. That way the bosses can see your thinking and provide feedback, as opposed to wondering why one piece is perfect and nothing else is even started. It looks like better time management skills.” Dylan shrugged.
“One, that was way more detailed than I expected. Two, do what you just said.” Stacy clicked the button forcing Dylan’s chair into the seated position. “You’ve always been smart. You are gonna go be honest with a cute boy and crush corporate reports in record time.”
“I don’t have another option.” Dylan tried not to laugh at her bestie’s idea of a pep talk.
“Don’t say that,” Stacy chided, “You are choosing not to quit, which is an option.”
Dylan stopped. Stacy was right. She could quit, but she wasn’t going to, and that was her choice. It was all the pep talk she needed.
“Thank you for reminding me,” Dylan said, swinging her legs out of the chair and standing up. Her height in comparison to the tiny room and her pocket-sized friend made her feel like a tower.
“Feeling better?” Stacy called loudly, as they made their way towards the exit, linking her arm through Dylan’s.
“Much. Luckily, Seattle has no shortage of late-night coffee houses with wifi.”
“That’s my girl,” Stacy said, walking her back through the lobby’s main door.
“You are a good friend. You know that?”
“Of course I do.” Stacy grinned, then paused, the smile dripping off her face. “Dyl, not to put extra pressure on you right now, but my recommendation is due tomorrow. If you don’t have time, I can—”
“No, no.” Dylan waved her hand in front of her face, brushing away any alternative suggestions, “It’s all written, I just need to proofread the letter and submit it.”
“Are you sure? Because I could ask someone else if it is too much right now.” Stacy said, giving her arm a squeeze.
“No, seriously. It’s on the top of my documents to finish pile.”
“Alright then. I’m just nervous because it’s the last piece I have to submit before my application is complete.”
“Consider it done.”
Stacy smiled, as they reached Dylan’s car. “Talk to you soon,” she said, reaching out for one more hug. “Let me know when you have kicked all of the butts and taken every name.”
Dylan laughed. “Will do. We can get together and have an actual gin martini to celebrate. None of this pink stuff.”
“Whatever. You know those things are amazing.”
“I will never concede that point.” Dylan rolled her eyes and pulled open her car door. “Thanks, friend.”
“Anytime,” Stacy called through the car window.
I hope you enjoyed this look at the cutting room floor! If you haven’t read The Checklist, you can pick up your copy at Amazon (both KU and Kindle available), Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, IndieBound, Ripped Bodice, Target.